Edmonton Eskimos head coach Jason Mass was emotional after Saturday’s loss to the Calgary Stampeders. In his scrum with reporters after the game, he questioned the officiating, the CFL’s concussion protocol, the competency of the command centre, explained his lack of discipline on the sidelines and feels the timing on the 44-man roster rule should be changed.
Q: Did you get an explanation as to what the spotter saw to take [quarterback] Mike [Reilly] out at that crucial time in the red zone?
Maas: “I don’t know what he saw. In the year in a half that I’ve coached Mike, I’ve seen him take tons of hits. We have an award here, he gets something every year which is called the toughest in the league award. Toughest in the league. And he takes one hit and a guy thinks he’s got a concussion. He takes him out in the red zone? I mean, what our league is about, is about protecting our players, I’m grateful for that. But, you know, it is what it is. They decide to take him out, our doctors, right when he came off the field knew he was fine but yet he had to be out for three plays. That’s the rules and we had to abide by them.”
Q: Do you have a return date at all for Sean Whyte?
Maas: “I think he’s going to be back soon. We’ll see about him kicking this week and see if he’s capable of it. But as soon as he can get back in his form, he’ll be back in the line up.”
Q: Going back to that Reilly hit, do you think that if the spotter takes him out of the game that there should have been a flag?
Mass: “I would suppose if he got hit, a hit that could cause you to go out of the game – so I’m assuming your head got rung, and usually when you’re head gets rung, as usually when you’re head gets rung, it’s a hit to the head… I didn’t really see the play to be quite honest with you. But again, I just think, I guess our league is about safety. But our player doesn’t stay on the ground, he gets back up and he’s in the red zone and somebody in Toronto wants to make the assumption that he’s hurt and our doctors, as soon as he walks off the field look at him and know Mike Reilly better than anybody knows him and can do all the things in a play or two, why does he have to be out three plays? That would be my question. If he’s not the one staying down and a spotter is telling him to go out but that’s our league rule right now and I’m not questioning it, I’m not – I love the CFL. I don’t want to get fined for anything I’m about to say. But at the same time, there are some times when circumstances come up in games when you can start questioning things that are being done in our league.
“If our quarterback can not wobble off the field but he can jog off the field, run off the field, go see a doctor and in a split second they tell him, ask him all the ten questions they need to ask him and he should be back sooner than three plays, why does he have to stay out three plays. That would be my question. That was someone else’s judgment and it happened to be in a critical moment of the game for us, in the red zone area and so obviously I don’t agree with it because I know Mike Reilly and I watch him get up after every single hit because, again, he’s the toughest quarterback in our league. There ain’t no doubt about that. So to take him out of the play like that when he’s not wobbly and he’s not staying on the ground, it”s a judgment call by somebody and, in my opinion, it wasn’t the right call. But somebody made it.”
Q: This game is a rivalry for a reason. Is it tough to preach discipline when it’s easy to lose?
Maas: “Discipline is discipline. They know the difference between right and wrong. Again, do our players know not to throat slash or do anything objectionable? Yes, they do. Sometimes, your emotions get the best of you. Right now we are not good enough in that department.”
Q: We saw a penalty for the bench too, for the coach tonight.
Maas: “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, you did see that. And I have one challenge flag to use and obviously you could tell by my displeasure of throwing my headset down that I wasn’t very pleased with what I assumed was an obvious call. I went into this two game series with a 72 per cent in all my challenges and I lost both challenges against Calgary, somehow, some way. So, that one looked pretty obvious to me, I don’t know how in any league you can go and grab a guy’s arms twice in a play – not hand fight – but actually grab a guy’s arms before he goes up and that’s okay. That’s not called DPI? Again, can I not question what other people make judgments on? I assume I can. And I assume that’s what you’re asking me the questions for so that you guys can hear my opinion on it. Again, I don’t want to get fiend for it, and I love the CFL, but if I can’t question somebody’s judgment at times than I don’t now. I just don’t agree with the call and that’s why you saw what I did. I got he 15-yard penalty for it, it was at the end of the half so did it matter? No.”
Q: Speaking of player safety Jason, the rule with Mercy Maston, because he got injured after you declared the 44-man roster
Maas: “You man the 44-man roster where we have two guys that we pay that don’t get to play, unless it’s one hour before the game that you decide you want to put him in. 59 minutes you couldn’t play him, so we have a player that goes down, ruptures his Achilles, he’s out for the season, we have a DB that’s ready, could be, I won’t say that there was, but if there was a DB, a defensive back, a boundary corner, and it was 59 minutes went by, we couldn’t have played with him. Again, do I think the rules need to be looked at in certain circumstances like that? Absolutely. We’re not trying to trick anybody, I think Calgary would’ve had enough time when that happened, which it was about 35 minutes, but even so the rule is one hour. So if it was 59 minutes and 58 seconds we would not have been allowed to do that. And I don’t know that that’s right. I’m just questioning something that I think needs to be brought up and looked at because in all fairness we have two guys that we paid that sat on the sidelines all night and we were one man down at 59 minutes and 58 seconds to go before we went and stepped on the field. That gives Calgary plenty of time I believe to make the adjustments when we put a different guy on. And I mean you’re already paying him. I think that it at least needs to be questioned and looked at because I’ve wondered about it for a long time now but I’ve never seen a guy get injured like that, in a warm-up, and I would suppose that you’d want to be able to field a full roster to start a game, if you have guys that are on your reserve, sitting there ready to go. We’re not trying to screw the other team, even if I did it with one minute to go and he got hurt, you still have 25 minutes in your room to adjust to it. That’s what football is about is adjustments. When guys get hurt at halftime we go in and adjust in 15 minutes. So you’re telling me you got two guys on the reserve that they know and it’s one minute. Even one minute, you couldn’t make that adjustment? I think it just needs to be looked at by the league, I’m not saying anything, I don’t think it’s bad, I get it, it was put in there for one hour and that’s the rule and you can’t do anything about it. So I just think it needs to be looked at, if anything.”